Transfer of luggage on connecting flights can be stressful even for experienced travelers. Rules and policies vary according to airlines and connecting airports. God forbid if your first flight is delayed then it can be an absolute nightmare to get to your connecting flight. If you are booked on different airlines and you miss your connecting flight then you are left on your own. You will have to book another flight to your destination.
For a first-time traveler, the mere prospect of transferring your luggage between connecting flights can be a cause of a lot of stress. We attempt to throw more light on the dynamics of luggage transfer in connecting flights.
What are Connecting Flights?
Nonstop flights take you directly to your destination. They are costly as compared to connecting flights. Nonstop flights may not be available to your chosen destination. It is due to all these factors that people opt for connecting flights. When you book connecting flights you will have to leave your plane and take your seat on another flight at the designated airport. Connecting flights on low-cost airlines is cheaper, and they reduce your overall travel cost.
Procedure for Check-in through connecting flights
When you are traveling through international connecting flights you will have to go through immigration and customs at the connecting airport. Booking connecting flights with different airlines mean going through baggage and security checks every time you change flights.
If all the connecting flights have been booked on one ticket then the connecting procedure is seamless. The connecting procedure is also easy when you have booked tickets with different airlines but the airlines have an interline agreement between them. This essentially means that the airlines have an internal agreement to transfer the passenger’s luggage.
The connecting airport plays a major role in your experience of luggage transfer between connecting flights. Some airports are huge with state-of-the-art facilities and the latest technology at work. Connecting flights from such an airport will be easy. Huge airports also mean more passengers. You must take into account the delays due to the passenger rush at the check-in counter. You will also spend more time walking from one counter to another.
Other airports are small with manual processes. In these airports, you face a greater risk of losing your luggage. The check-in process also takes more time.
Connecting Flights Booked Separately
When you have booked connecting flights on different airlines then the airlines do not have any obligation to transfer your luggage. If you are arriving from an international flight and continuing with a domestic flight, you should claim your baggage at the international arrivals section. Then it must be checked in at the domestic section. Leave enough time between two flights.
You will also have to recheck your baggage if there is a gap of more than 12 hours between your flights. You will have to recheck your baggage if your connecting flight involves an overnight stay.
Points to be noted while booking connecting flights with different airlines.
Different airlines have different baggage policies. There are limits on the baggage weight acceptable by different airlines. Some airlines will charge for excess baggage. Some others may refuse to accept extra baggage. Major airlines have more or less similar policies regarding passenger luggage. But low-cost airlines may have widely different baggage rules.
It is better to leave a sufficient time gap between two connecting flights. There should be a gap of at least an hour between domestic connecting flights. This way you don’t have to rush while collecting your luggage from one airline and checking it into another. Factors like the size of the airport and passenger rush will impact the time taken for the transfer of your luggage. Short layovers increase the chances of lost or misplaced luggage, This is because the baggage handlers may not get sufficient time to transfer the luggage from one flight to another flight.
First-time travelers should leave more time between connecting flights. They may take time to find the relevant counters and understand the procedure for luggage check-in at the connecting airport.
It is very important to remember that when you are booked on separate airlines then they are not responsible if you miss your flight. If the first flight is delayed then checking in luggage in time for the connecting flight can be difficult.
Preparing your baggage for a connecting flight
Connecting flights increase the scope of luggage getting lost in transit. Put a sticker with your contact details and itinerary on your luggage. This will make it easier for airline workers to find you in case your baggage tag is damaged during luggage transfer.
Keep your precious goods, passports, medications in your carry-on bag. If possible also carry a set of clothes in your carry-on bag. This will help you if your luggage is delayed or misplaced during connecting flights.
Closely inspect the routing label and luggage tags on your bags. The final airport should be mentioned in the routing label. Your name and contact details should be clearly mentioned in the luggage tags.
Each U.S airline has its distinct rules about interlined baggage. Some airlines do not check-in bags if you book connecting flight tickets through a separate PNR. They do not check-in luggage between partner airlines or their own airlines if you book them on separate PNR. Things become easier if all the flights are booked on the same PNR.
Baggage fees for a connecting flight
Baggage fees are usually included in the ticket price. Airlines’ website normally mentions their baggage fees policy and baggage weight limit. But some low-cost airlines may offer some unpleasant surprises. If an airline website does not mention fees for checked-in luggage then it probably means that there are hidden charges associated with the ticket. In these cases, it is always better to call up and inquire with the airline about their luggage limits and the charges applicable.
If the separate airlines with whom you have booked connecting flights do not have a baggage agreement between them then you will have to pay separate baggage fees for each ticket. This is not the case when you book connecting flights with the same airline. If your connecting flight tickets are purchased separately even then you will have to pay separate baggage fees on each ticket.